Ephesians 5 and Unequal Conditions in Marriage

OK, this is a theological question that has a practical consequence. Please bear with me, and I would appreciate your comments on this:

Ephesians 5:
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing** her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

  • so the husband is called to love his wife, as Christ loves the Church. Christ loves the Church in her weakness, her imperfections, even her sins and disobedience. He always forgives, always reconciles, always leads her to perfection.

  • the wife on the other hand, is called to submit to her husband, as to Christ. Now, I’m not going to get into the whole ‘submit’ argument - that’s been done to death here I think. What I want to focus on is the ‘as to Christ’ part. The Church accepts Christ as her Saviour BECAUSE He is perfect, BECAUSE he is the spotless lamb without blemish, who takes away the sin of the world. If an imperfect Christ came along, the Church would not be called to submit to him, because he wouldn’t be the true Christ.

What I am trying to get at here is this question: Should a wife accept her husband in his imperfections, or should her love for him be conditional on his imaging Christ, while his love for her is unconditional?

I think this approach could lead to a prideful attitude, and I have some things to think about regarding the way I see these things. Any help would be much appreciated.**

I don’t know if this is right or not but this is what I think. I think “being submissive” really means being open and trusting. So I try to be as open and trusting of my husband as I would be of Jesus.

If my husband were to make a decision that could be detrimental to himself, me or our family I would certainly confront him about it. I would not be accusatory or ridiculing but trusting that he just had a momentary lapse of reason. I would appeal to his heart and steer as far away from his ego as possible. I would never confront my husband if he is in his ego.

Theologically though, “being submissive” finds it’s source in Adam and Eve. Eve disobeyed God ( I often wonder if Eve made an “emotional” decision rather than using her reason) and then used her influence to draw Adam into sinning with her. Because she misused her influence and power God required her (and all women) to submit to her husband’s authority. Adam on the other hand fell short in his love for Eve in that he did not protect her from the evil one. This is why it says in that passage that men are to imitate Jesus, “who laid down his life for His bride.” Adam should have fought to the death for His wife Eve and saved her from committing sin but he was a coward.

Does this make sense to you?

To expand on this…

I read in a few books that because of the fall in the Garden women and men forgot who they really were and each of us has a question (a wound) in our hearts that needs to be answered. For the man it is:

Do I have what it takes?

For the woman it is:

Am I lovely?

Based on these two questions you can see why in Ephesians God tells men to love their wives, because it answers her question. And you can see why God tells women to submit because her “trusting” her husband answers his question, your trust says, “I believe in you. You have what it takes.”

Thanks, I think what I am trying to get at here is whether a man is called to love his wife in an unconditional way that is more than what is required of his wife? After all, Christ loves us more than we love Him.

Also, whether the communion a married couple shares ought to be only a sharing in Christ through the person (I.e. a wife accepts what is good and Christlike in her husband, and requires him to change those things that are not, so that the more he resembles Christ, the more she loves him, transforming him through those demands) or whether it is a communion with the whole person in their incompleteness, their brokenness, accepting and loving the bad as well as the good, and transforming it through love?

I think it is this because this is how Jesus loves. This is why Jesus himself became weak and deformed by sin so that we could see Jesus even in the weak and deformed.

I would say not.

Our love for Christ is to be absolute. We are to love Him above all others. His Church, for His sake, is to strive for perfection in herself and to be obedient.

I strive to love Christ with every part of myself, and I do not make my obedience contingent upon what He does for me. (Many of those who have loved Him most have ended up in terrible suffering.) My love for my husband is the same. I love him with every part of myself, and I do not make my love (or obedience) contingent upon what he does for me.

Though in our relationship to Christ, He will not be actually “making mistakes” or what-have-you, it can certainly feel that way to those of us who have a hard path to walk. Our husbands might genuinely make mistakes–or even be bad or cruel–but that does not make my marriage oath any less valid or binding, any more than trials and tribulations make my relationship with Christ less binding.

I don’t think a man’s love is called to be more unconditional than his wive’s. We are all called to be Christlike and love unconditionally, not just men. I think what this passage is saying is that the man needs to put his family first and be willing to give his life for his wife and family just as Christ died for us. The woman is called to trust her husband and be obedient to him, just as she would tust and be obedient to Christ. Of course most husbands aren’t perfect, so she should discuss it with him if she thinks he is making a decision not in the family’s best interest.

The wife needs to love and accept her husband despite his imperfections. Both parties will be transformed through unconditional love. Of course, this is quite idealistic and a major challenge to live in real life. Also, this passage can cause a great deal of distress for a woman in an abusive marriage, so we need to be mindful that there are situations where we need to be careful about placing too much emphasis on it.

The Church is try to imitate Christ in love and there are no limits on the basic vocation to be holy, either (“as Father is holy”). Thus while you could argue about whose responsibility is stricter, there isn’t really a more limited goal for the wife than for the husband.

But questions about accepting imperfections tend to be loaded. We can expect some acceptance of our faults and failures, especially those that we work on, while we can’t really say, “this is how I am, accept that I won’t change.” Please note that one type of imperfection is the failure to be accepting or tolerant of the failures of others. In short, some failures of others as to being accepting and supportive are also failures that we should generally try to be accepting and understanding about.

At least this is how I see things.

It is very straight forward and the root of this passage is even brfore the fall in Genesis.
It is about our roles in relation to each other and in relation to God.
Adam was created first and in relation in order to give glory to God. Eve was created in order to give glory to Adam and in relation to Adams need. Another verse that compliments this is Corinthians 10 If my memory serves me well.
A man would not willingly harm his own body, as we are one flesh when we are married, a husband harms himself if he criticises and does not fully accept his wife and leads her with selfless devotion and love.
In like manner a wife.harms her husband by being difficult and trying to rule over him as the husband is the head or savior of the wife.
Now flip this in relation to Jesus and the church as He views us as our “spotless bride” and we all submit to Him.
We should react to each other in love and harmony as a bride of Christ.
It is relating marriage to Christ and the Church.
The context of Corinthians was written as there was conflict in the church
Saint paul even writes very clear that we should view young women as sisters and older women as mothers(paraphrase).

I agree that this is how Jesus loves, therefore how a husband ought to love his wife. What I am asking is whether it is also how a wife ought to love her husband?

I think we often have this androgynous view of marriage as an equal partnership, but it seems to me the Bible assigns distinctive roles to husband and to wife.

As I said, this is a theological question with a practical conclusion. It would be the easiest thing in the world for me to say to my wife ‘please accept this about me’ even though it is just something I want that won’t (as far as I can see) help her salvation. On the other hand, it’s also something I can fight against in myself in order to better image Christ, just leaving that part unfulfilled because it doesn’t tend to the good of her salvation.

I know I would receive unconditional acceptance from my wife if I wanted it. Nonetheless, I take seriously the idea of spiritual headship, and that can seem prideful and arrogant, as though I’m saying ‘I love you more than you love me’. That’s not the case, my wife is so much better and more loving than me, but I don’t allow myself to share the bad part of me. That’s not my vocation, as I see it. Am I mistaken?

I agree.

No. The Catholic position is that both Adam and Eve were created for the glory of God. Please read our Cathechism says and what Blessed JPII said on this.

You are reading to deep into my words, of course both Adam and eve were created for the glory of God, as we are created equally. I am sorry as I should have stated this.
If you look at the creation account in genesis 2, God created eve out of adam for his need for a partner. To glorify adam as a partner as he was incomplete.
Pretty simple verse. Try corinthians 10 the headcovering chapter. Same creation order as this one and Genesis 2.

Eve was created as a companion for Adam not to glorify him. Shouldn’t we only glorify God.

What has headcovering to do with this thread please ?

A head covering had nothing to do with the thread., I was identifying a verse that is parallel to ephesians 5. From the top of my head. I wish I had my bible with me as I do not have internet at home.

So yoi di agree that Eve was crerated for Adam? That is the point severus.
Adam was created for God and Eve was created for Adam, very simple.

Sorry about the grammer and spelling. I am on a blackberry and my nails keep hitting the wrong keys and I can hardly see the tiny words.
Severus try reading 1 Corinthians 11. In reference to Ephesians 5. The words I used are in 1 Corinthians 11;7-9 This is also in reference to Genesis 1:26-27. Gen.5:1 Gen 9:6.
Very straight forward

Apart from the fact that it is indeed said in some passages that woman was created for man, it is also said that man and woman God created them. A woman is “man” too in that sense (species of creation, not the sex). She is “man” i.e. human first, woman i.e female human second.

There is just some confusion caused by the fact that in some languages the word for the human species is the same as for a male human or at the very least the generic word for a human is of the masculine grammatical gender. But don’t be stopped by this. :wink:

Read the verses I supplied above, a greek word is not applicable, as the whole senrence and paragraph states it, not just a single word. Some verses do state that man comes from a woman in the subject of childbirth. Of course we are both created as humans, It would be silly to think otherwise.
Woman means from man

A commentary could be useful regarding 1 Cor 11. Head covering is no longer required of women, by the way, let alone shearing.

Read corinthians 11 without focusing on the issue of headcoverings and focus on why Paul is stating that we have different roles in relation to each other,to God and the Church. It goes past culture and headcoverings and right into Genesis
Read Eph 5 and 1 Corinthians 11 and genesis 2 together.

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